Better youth mental health services

  • Tony Ryall

Young New Zealanders with mental health issues will receive better, faster, more youth-friendly care through the National-led Government’s youth mental health package, says Health Minister Tony Ryall.

The package, announced today by Prime Minister John Key, is designed to provide significantly better, earlier and more modern help for young people suffering from mental illness.

“We know that if young people with mental health issues receive early intervention then the long-term outcome is much better,” says Mr Ryall.

“Faster access to treatment, provided closer to home and in more flexible ways, is key to this new package.

“We are increasing investment in school-based health services by $10 million over four years. This money will be used to put a nurse in every decile three secondary school – in addition to the nurses already in decile one and two schools. In total this will cover 157 secondary schools and 56,000 young people.

“The expanded school-based health services will improve students’ access to treatment, with nurses identifying mental health issues early and making referrals.”

My Ryall says given today’s young people live in a technology-savvy world, it’s also important to provide help in ways they can relate to.

“We’re investing $2.7 million in online E-therapy. It’s proving an effective and accessible option internationally for people with mild mental health issues and has the potential to make a significant difference for young people here who might not be comfortable seeking face-to-face help,” says Mr Ryall.

In the health sector, the youth mental health package also includes:

  • An additional $11.3 million to expand primary mental health funding to more young people. The funding will be accessible through GPs, school-based health services and Youth One Stop Shops – youth-friendly centres that cater for a wide range of youth needs.
  • Ensuring Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services reduce their wait times and improve post-discharge follow-ups, to ensure young people get better care.
  • Reviewing how the very complex area of referrals is working across the youth mental health system.

“Together this group of changes will expand access to mental health treatment for young people while ensuring services work much better,” says Mr Ryall.

The total contribution to the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health package from Vote Health is $33 million over four years.